A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back.
Cancellations and Closures
The online children’s literary journal Anansesem has ceased publishing. It explained via open letter: “We’ve been forced to reconsider our professional and personal priorities. Under normal circumstances, it’s challenging running a small literary magazine when we receive such little funding and are unable to pay contributors and team members. In these drastically changing times, when jobs are on the line and the financial future is uncertain, it’s become clear that running a magazine using volunteer staff, as we’ve done since our inception, is no longer feasible.” The website remains online and the online bookstore remains open. Read the full open letter here.
The Antigua and Barbuda Conference would have taken place in early August right after Carnival, but, like Carnival, is has been cancelled. The organizers, in an email announcing the cancellation, said: “Our plan was to look at the impact of the migration and the brain drain on Antigua and Barbuda. We will try to keep this topic on the agenda for next year, but it may have to share this focus with the impact of the corona virus on Antigua and Barbuda. The 2020 issue of The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books will be coming out in the fall. It will carry forward the examination of Barbuda begun at last year’s conference, as well as featuring concerns of its own. We will do our best to get it online, so that all of us can have access to it. We will certainly miss the intellectual stimulation and synergies of our gatherings. Stay well, stay safe, and, with this pandemic behind us, hopefully see you next year.”
Bocas’ Books that made us campaign has produced a top 10 that includes the classics you’d expect (Miguel Street, The Dragon can’t Dance, The Lonely Londoners, The Year in San Fernando, Annie John, Summer Lightening etc.) and some newer entries including no less than two entries apiece by two Caribbean modern Classics (Edwidge Dandicat – Breath, Eyes, Memory and The Farming of Bones; and Marlon James – Book of Night Women and Brief History of Seven Killings). Read the full report here. Remember my list?
Speaking of Bocas, its Bios and Bookmarks series continues:
Intersect, an advocacy project out of Antigua and Barbuda, that’s focused per its instagram page, on “connecting Queeribbean & Caribbean feminists through storytelling, art, and gender justice” has, after a quiet period, become quite vibrant in the COVID-19 quarantine era. Having put out a call for people to share their Caribbean and Queribbean feminist stories, as well as stories on colourism. They’ve so far posted audio excerpts of stories by writers from Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, and, continuing, from other places. They’ve, also, been sharing book recs, art and original interviews (including one with me) on their instagram page.
Bahamian Alexia Tolas was first long listed then short listed (Niamh Campbell of Dublin was ultimately announced as the winner) for the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award for ‘Granma’s Porch’. She is the only Caribbean writer on the list. She was the Commonwealth Regional prize winner in 2019. See the full listand learn more about the authors.
The long list for the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean has been announced. It’s a long one.
As seen in the images (click for full view), the long list includes writers from Antigua and Barbuda (Joanne C. Hillhouse, ‘Vincent’), Barbados (LaFleur Cockburn, ‘Blight Tone’; Akim Goddard, ‘At De Busstop’), Dominica (Yakima Cuffy, ‘De Souvenir Shop’; Delroy N. Williams, ‘Deported’), Guyana (Tristana Roberts, ‘Backtrack Home’; Sonia Yarde, ‘Cursed’), Jamaica (Kim Robinson-Walcott, ‘Ridin Bareback’; Amanda Rodrigues, ‘Breast Milk’; Sharma Taylor, ‘The Story of Stony’ – Taylor is from Jamaica but resident in Barbados), Puerto Rico (Nahomy Laza Gonzalez, ‘The Greats’; Adriana De Persia Colon, ‘Bathroom Visits’), Trinidad and Tobago (Akhim Alexis, ‘Gone America’; Theresa Awai, ‘The Lagahoo in the Blue Sweat Pants’; Suzanne Bhagan, ‘The Village Seamstress’; Joanne Farrag, ‘All Skin Teeth’; Rashad Hosein, ‘Fry Chicken’; Sogolon Jaya, ‘The Autobiography of my Father…because my mother didn’t want me’; Alexander Johnson, ‘Pulling Bull’; Ryan Seemungal, ‘Quiet Revelry’; Hadassah K. Williams, ‘Vizay’). Twenty one writers overall by my count.
The BCLF is also offering a short story prize for Caribbean writers living in the diaspora. That short list is shorter and includes Stephanie Ramlogan, ‘The Case of the Missing Eggs’; Lisa Latouche (of Dominica), ‘Summer’s End’; Max Smith, ‘Morning Prayers’; Deborah Stewart, ‘Wash Belly’; Marisa Blanc, ‘Going, Going, Gone’; Gabrielle Patmore, ‘Unavailable’; Fana Fraser, ‘Saturday Night’; Krystal Ramroop, ‘Sticky Wicket’; and Jennelle Alfred, ‘Ella, Anika and the Cricket Ball’.
Congrats to all and good luck to all.
To Shoot Hard Labour Project Ends (and RIP to Sir Keithlyn Smith)
The month long celebration via the Voice of the People summer reading project of To Shoot Hard Labour chronicling roughly 100 years of the life of Antigua and Barbuda, 19th century to 1980s, through the life of Antiguan and Barbudan working man Papa Sammy Smith ended on the last day of the month July 31st 2020. Later that night Carnival the death of co-author of the book Keithlyn Smith was announced. The legendary union man (longstanding general secretary of the Antigua Workers Union) had earlier that day communicated, via his daughter, affirming the acknowledgment of To Shoot Hard Labour by the likes of Dr. Natasha Lightfoot, daughter of the soil, professor at an Ivy league university in the US, and author of her own history book Troubling Freedom, meant to him after initially having his book undermined on its release. This video is of the first week’s discussion of the book which featured Dr. Lightfoot. RIP to Sir Keithlyn who leaves behind a legacy of both championing workers rights and returning to Antiguan and Barbudan people their own story.
The project has announced eight-year-old Rheikecia Manning as the winner of its dioramma competition. She gave her interpretation of the Yeoman’s Old Road estate at Cades Bay complete with sugar mill, Antigua Black pineapple, wattle and daub house, cane, and a woman preparing to wash clothes and place them on the stone heap.
Carnival and Cropover
In the midst of summer 2020, COVID-19 shutdown blues, hurricane/storm anxieties, and a summer at once damp and dry, Caribbean people (read: Carnival people) have been finding ways to keep the music playing and the fete going. It hasn’t all been easy sailing with the government in Antigua and Barbuda getting tough on gatherings, prompting push back, and reinforcing beach shutdowns on public holidays, which begs the question is it Carnival Monday with no j’ouvert and no beach. As with everything else, while the live Carnival has been cancelled, some aspects have gone on line – on August Monday there was what seems to be an unofficial Opposition organized Emancipation Day Kayso Monarch competition broadcast across ZDK, Observer, and Progressive FM, and won by G-Eve who sang about uniting to fight “this Corona malady”.
Meanwhile on the national station ABS TV, streamed live online, was a Soca Monarch Virtual edition. This was also streamed on Emancipation Day night which means that, yes, calypso and soca were once again battling for fans’ attention – unfortunately. At this typing there was no declared winner for the latter. ETA: Veteran of the arena Blade was declared the winner. So, we’ll just place a picture of Naycha Kid who has in recent years returned to the soca stage, after a long hiatus due to being born again. The gospel artist is no longer singing about Another Man taking your place, but he is still full of vibes.
No it does not skip notice that the calypso viewers were roughly 20% of the party monarch viewers, and also that the numbers overall weren’t great for either – what questions hang on that, do we really care about calypso? is virtual Carnival not doing it for people? What to say but mek out ’til 2021?
A personal highlight was the spotlight on the Watch Night celebrations which usually get lost in the Carnival but with no Carnival this year was featured live on ABS TV on July 31st in to August 1st – Emancipation Day (1834).
Over in Barbados, meanwhile, the show went on with Cropover online, branded Freedom Festival 2020. Activities include a virtual art gallery, online lit magazine, ben ovah dance competition, spoken word showcase, and theatre show.
As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.